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Apple Scrap Vinegar – Easy, Inexpensive Homemade Vinegar

Apple scrap vinegar is a quick and easy way to turn apple scraps into homemade apple cider vinegar (ACV). Apple cider vinegar can be used as a home remedy for everything from warts to sunburn to acid reflux, and makes a tasty salad dressing.

apple scrap vinegar

Apple Scrap Vinegar Recipe

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Easy, inexpensive homemade apple Cider vinegar made from apple scraps.

  • Author: Laurie Neverman


Units Scale
  • Apple scraps, about a quart – you may use cores, peels or even chunks of banged up apples. Just don’t use anything rotten or moldy.
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or honey)
  • 1 quart warm water
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar (optional)

If you want to make larger batches, just keep the same ratios.


Mix sugar in water to dissolve. In a 2 quart mason jar or other large, nonreactive container (use glass, food grade plastic or stainless steel) add apple parts and enough sugar water to cover.

I like to fill the 2 quart mason jar about half full of apple scraps, then cover with a quart of sugar water. This gives you ample room to mix without spilling, and also allows plenty of room for bubbles formed during fermentation.

Add raw apple cider vinegar, if desired. This isn’t absolutely needed, but will help jumpstart the ferment. If you have had mold issues in your ferments before, the vinegar is a good safeguard.

Stir vigorously and cover opening with a cloth and rubber band to keep out fruit flies but allow natural yeasts in. Initially the smell should start out like apples and hooch (the microbes will produce alcohol before they switch to vinegar), then the sour vinegar smell will develop.

I do not use a weight to keep the apple scraps down, but I do stir them daily and push them below the liquid.

Keep jar at room temperature and stir daily for about a week. Strain out apple chunks and compost them (or give them to the chickens).

Return to fermenting vessel with airlock or cloth cover and ferment for 2-3 more weeks, stirring occasionally.

Strain and bottle.

Use for cooking, cleaning, critters or health, and enjoy your homemade vinegar that only cost you pennies to make.


Make sure to use clean, non-chlorinated water. Many municipalities add chlorine to the city water. This will kill your vinegar yeast. Use filtered water, distilled water, well water – anything that doesn’t have chlorine and is safe to drink.

Share a photo and tag us — we can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

Is Homemade Vinegar Safe for Canning?

Homemade apple cider vinegar is not recommended for canning, because the pH will vary from batch to batch.

If you wanted to create a homemade vinegar that was safe to use in canning recipes, you’d need a pH of 2.4. (You can test pH with a digital pH tester or pH strips.)

Can I Use an Air Lock or Tightly Sealed jar?

To make homemade vinegar using this recipe, you want to catch wild yeast. The wild yeast does the fermenting. This mean that you need to have the ferment open to the air.

This is why I recommend covering the jar with a cloth and rubber band. A paper towel held on with a canning ring will also work. The cloth also allows the ferment to vent carbon dioxide, while still keeping out fruit flies.

Don’t use an airlock, or seal the jar when you’re brewing your vinegar. Do stir daily to help introduce air to the ferment. Make sure to push the fruit below the water to help avoid spoilage.

Once fermentation is active and you strain the apple chunks out, then you can put on an airlock if you choose. Do not store the vinegar in a tightly sealed container immediately after removing the apples.

Fermentation is likely to continue for a couple more weeks, which produces carbon dioxide gas. If you transfer to a closed jar, beware of explosive gas buildup.

Do I need to add the sugar?

Some recipes for homemade vinegar skip the sugar. I add sugar because it helps to jump start the fermentation process and ensures a nice, strong vinegar.

The sugar is eaten by the wild yeast that turn the apple water mix into vinegar. You don’t end up with a sweet product.

If you end up with too much water and not enough apple bits, the mixture might not be quite acidic enough to stop mold growth.

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Homemade Vinegar for the Flock and the Stock

In the backyard or barnyard, add apple cider vinegar to drinking water to improve flock and stock health. It also helps prevent scum buildup inside watering containers.

Add one tablespoon of vinegar per gallon of water. Just make sure to use plastic or glass waterers, as the acidity of the apple scrap vinegar will corrode metal.

See “The Small Scale Poultry Flock” for more on using ACV with your flock.

homemade apple cider vinegar ACV

Homemade Vinegar to Remove Odors

Vinegar has a long history of use as an odor remover.

My friend, Kelly, notes:

“My grandma used to put a vinegar soaked bread slice in the garbage after a fish fry. It soaks up odors.”

Some people place a small dish of vinegar in the refrigerator for the same purpose.

I’ve also seen people talking about using the vinegar soaked bread trick to deodorize the garage, but I think that area is too large for it to work effectively.

For larger areas, I’d suggest the article, “Musty Smells in the House – Finding Them and Getting Rid of Them“.

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Originally published in 2016, last updated in 2020.

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  1. Hi Laurie ! I just strained out my step 1 and put it in half gallon jars. I have 2 half gallon jars and one quart jar. I filled them almost to the rim. I, also, am using mason top pickle pipes like these.
    1. are the jars to be filled all the way or is there a certain headspace needed ?
    2. are pickle pipes ok instead of the traditional airlocks or do I need a way for the air to get in ?
    Thank You for all of your help !

    1. Hi Patricia.

      1. Precise headspace isn’t important. If there’s still active fermentation, allow enough headspace to keep the vinegar in the jar and out of your pickle pipe. I usually end up with around 1/4 to 1/2 inch, but more isn’t a problem as long as the ferment has turned acidic. The acidity level keeps it from spoiling.

      2. Pickle pipes are fine now that you’ve strained the vinegar, because you already have the microbes in the mix that were needed to get the vinegar going. Depending on the mix and kitchen conditions, it may keep producing CO2 for a while, so the pickle pipes will make it easier for you since you don’t need to burp the jar. I may even make a note about them in the article as a good option for covering the jars.

      1. Thanks Laurie ! All is well then !
        I’m so exited ! I now have 2 half gallon jars and 1 quart jar doing the final stage ! :} 1/4″ headspace and pickle pipes ! Covered with a towel (I wasn’t sure if it needed a dark space)
        You’re the BEST !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. Dark space not critical, but keep them out of direct sunlight. Sunlight kills microbes – including the helpful yeasts doing the fermenting. I generally keep my ferments under cover because we have windows on the south and east so the sun pops in from a couple different directions.

  2. So I am nearing the end of my vinegar. I’ve fermented two jars and strained them and now I’m tasting them. One jar has a light, crisp vinegar taste and don’t think an issue. It seems successful. The other has a yeasty taste. Is this jar safe or did it somehow go wrong and need to be tossed? I had a film form early on in the process and skimmed it. It was a bit cloudy, dark gray even. The “yeasty” jar in question also has visible bits at the bottom. Any advice much appreciated.

    1. The film may have been a vinegar mother, so that’s not overly concerning. I’m guessing that you ended up with slightly different microbe mixes in each batch. You may want to try straining again to remove the sediment (if it’s yeast dregs, it’ll add to that yeasty flavor even more as time goes on). You can also try adding a bit of the vinegar with the flavor you prefer to the other vinegar in hopes of boosting the microbe mix that you like in the off-flavor ferment.

      As long as there’s not mold, it should be safe to use. If you like, you can get pH strips to check and compare the 2 batches and make sure the pH is acidic.

    2. Hi Laurie!
      My apple cider vinegar is ready to be strained. Should I strain it through cheese cloth or just a kitchen strainer. It has about 1/4” white film on top and some apple sediment on bottom.

    1. Yes, it will smell sweet and yeasty at first, more like apple cider than apple vinegar. The surface may be a bit slimy as the fruit chunks break down. As the ferment progresses and the sugar is eaten, the flavor will shift from sweet to acidic.

  3. I’ve looked all over the internet and read LOTS of recipes, but haven’t found the answers to two questions that nag me:

    1. Why must the apple solids be removed after the first week or so (depending on temperature- my apartment is pretty cold)?
    2. I live in a bright-but-tight city apartment; my kitchen “dark zones” are pretty limited. Most, if not all, recipes call for storing the fermenting vinegar in a dark space. What’s the impact of light on the fermentation process?

    1. 1. If you leave the solids in, they eventually turn into mushy mess that’s a little messier to strain. They don’t tend to preserve neatly, like say, dilly beans. The liquid also becomes more cloudy over time, and more prone to spoilage because the particulates sometimes float to the top. Remove the solids after they’ve given up most of their goodness, and you end up with a much more shelf stable product. I’ve left them in up to a month and the vinegar didn’t spoil, but it doesn’t add anything to the brew.

      2. Sunlight bleaches and kills bacteria and other micro-organisms. Think about UV treatment for sterilization. Same concept.

      Our house is loaded with windows because we have passive solar. I cover anything fermenting on the kitchen counters with a kitchen towel or old sock to block out the light. If I want a ferment to get warmer, I’ll use a black sock to absorb the heat without having the light directly hit the ferment.

  4. Here’s my experience so far with my first batch. First, most of my apples were just a little under ripe. I had enough apples this year it was bending the limbs on my tree. Second, I used tap water (yes, I live in the city). Other than that, I followed directions. After the first strain, there was what appeared to be a nice layer of apple pulp floating on the top, and some on the bottom. I left it. My apples did form a gel mass like kombacha. After 2 weeks, the gel started getting cloudy and the “pulp” on top started turning brown. I removed the mass and strained again. At this point I have the vinegar in 3 2 qt glass jars with plastic screw on lids. Each jar is about 2/3 full. I check them every day and there doesn’t appear to be any gas build up. No hissing when I untwist the lid (I’ve left the jars on my kitchen table). They are also forming a film. I’ve tasted them, and it’s very different than my Braggs ACV. There is the slightest hint of sour, which makes me wonder if the batch is somehow bad. I’ve tested with PH paper and it’s a solid 3. Here’s my questions. 1. How can I be sure the batch is safe for human consumption (my plan was to make Fire Cider out of it). 2. At what point can I safely condense the jars and fill them “to the rim”?

    1. 1. Everything’s clean. There are no signs of mold or spoilage, and the pH test gives appropriate results. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be safe for human consumption.
      2. If there’s no significant pressure building in the jars anymore, it should be fine to condense them. If you’re unsure, check daily for a few days to make sure there’s not a pressure buildup that would get messy.

      Ferments vary greatly based on the ingredients and conditions of fermentation, but if you follow safe food handling rules, there shouldn’t be a problem.

      If you have spoilage, it’s usually quite obvious. There will be visible signs of mold, or unpleasant odor and/or taste.

      Fermented foods may be pungent, or sour, or earthy, but they should never taste rotten – unless you’re dealing with more exotic fare. Most recipes that are passed on for extreme ferments warn you about expected strong flavors.

  5. Since there r so many questions and about as many responses I thought I would ask…..I am making a batch of scrap vinegar. I’m on 2nd week, yeast smell 4 sure, no stirring. A mesh bag with glass pebbles as a weight. Film on water as well as the mesh bag. ? Is… I strain and add to another open jar or something I can burp with a lid. When no longer needing burped, I can store in a different container right?

    1. Please note in the instructions: “Keep jar at room temperature and stir daily for about a week.”

      I hope you’ve used food grade glass pebbles, as most of the decorative ones say specifically “keep out of contact with food”, since they may contain lead.

      The daily stirring helps to introduce wild yeast. I don’t recommend weights for this reason.

      The film may be kahm yeast, or it may be spoilage, or it may be a vinegar mother trying to form. I don’t know.

      I don’t know how active your ferment is, but when you strain the fruit out, if it is still actively fermenting, you need to either burp it daily, put it in a container with an airlock, or put it in a jar with a cloth cover.

      Once it stops actively fermenting and outgassing, yes, it can be stored in a sealed container.

  6. I have been loving this ACV until the last 3 batches which smelled off

    A week on side stirring daily and then 3 weeks in a clip top bottle usually makes nice but slightly sweeter vinegar than my bought ACV with mother

    This evening I opened the bottles that I filled from the strained batch yesterday

    What a lot of explosive gas

    Where am I going wrong!!

    1. If you have explosive gas buildup in your closed bottles, there must have been a fair amount of fermentation in the bottle so that CO2 built up.

      Your ferment may have slowed down with cooler room temps, so it wasn’t as far along when you bottled.

      1. So please remind me …. a week in a cooler place ….. sieve out the apple …. then into a clip top bottle or open for a few weeks …. thankyou ,,,, Do you weight yours down?

        1. Keep jar at room temperature and stir daily for about a week. (No need to hunt for a cooler place, unless your room temp is very warm.)

          Strain out apple chunks and compost them (or give them to the chickens). Return to fermenting vessel and ferment for 2-3 more weeks, stirring occasionally. (I either leave it with the cloth cover or put on an airlock at this time, because there is still fermentation taking place. If you want to put it in a sealed container, burp the container daily to release any gas build up.)

          I don’t use a weight to hold the apple scraps down, but I do stir them daily and push them back under the liquid.

  7. I put apple scraps and cores weighed down in my fermentation crock with air lock. Checked every other day, but did not stir. There was bubbles but not a strong boozy smell. After 3 weeks I strained because the apple pieces were becoming pulp and coming up around the weights. The liquid is thick like syrup. No mold, no foul smell. Should I let it keep going?

    1. By using an air lock, you isolated the apples from the natural yeasts you need to make vinegar.

      Take your strained liquid, and cover it with a cloth or paper towel held in place snugly to keep fruit flies out.

      Stir daily, as directed, to help aerate and introduce the natural yeasts you need make vinegar. You should start to see more active fermentation that will switch the liquid over from sweet to acidic as it progresses.

  8. Would it work to use cooked Apple scraps from making applesauce that have been separated through a strainer? I’m guessing now because the enzymes would be dead.

    1. I wouldn’t recommend it. As you mentioned, by that point the scraps have been cooked, so the little apple yeasts that naturally occur are dead. You might be able to jump start the culture with a bit of live culture ACV, but I think the brew would be murky and more prone to mold.

  9. Could you make a drinkable hard apple cider if you interrupted the process earlier or used fermentation caps that keep oxygen out but allow c02 to escape?

  10. My vinegar is on it’s 4th day and I’m seeing foam on top where the apples are floating. I am stirring daily so I’m assuming this is expected as I’ll see some bubbles when fermenting saurkraut.

  11. HI , I stirred my apple scrap vinegar today but pulled off two gelatinous things. Did I just remove a ‘mother’ out ignorance?!

  12. I made two jars, forgot to stir them. One looks and smells great! The second jar is bubbling but looks as though it had mold 🙁 Do I discard that jar? Or is thee any saving it?

    1. I would suggest using the non edible apple scrap vinegar for cleaning purposes. Just don’t get any mixed up …

  13. Thank you for this! I left my scraps in the liquid for way too long … 3 weeks! I just strained and it smells vinegary but is quite cloudy compared to your photo. Do you think it’s still ok? No mould.

    1. It should be fine if there is no mold.

      To reduce the cloudiness, there are a couple of things you can do:

      Nothing – just let it sit, and eventually the lees should settle to the bottom and you can pour the clear liquid off the top.

      Strain through a finer filter, such as a coffee filter.

  14. Hi, after 12 days there is dark gunk on top about 1/4 ibch, should I remove this befire stirring? Thanks

    1. Have you been stirring daily? (Keep jar at room temperature and stir daily for about a week. )

      If you’ve been stirring daily, there shouldn’t be a top layer of gunk. After the first week, you should have strained out the chunks and be fermenting only liquid for the final 2-3 weeks.

  15. Hi Laurie,
    Thanks for the recipe. I’m looking forward to trying this. A few questions:
    1. When collecting scraps, is it ok if the seeds are left inside the cores?
    2. Any idea whether the resulting ACV will work well for soap making?

    1. I didn’t remove the seeds from the cores. I know there’s some cyanide in the seeds, but as they are not crushed, blended or concentrated, it shouldn’t be an issue.

      I’ve only made a few batches of homemade soap over the years, so I’m not an expert. I’m guessing there’s a recommended pH level for the vinegar to keep the recipe stable? If so, you could check the pH of your homemade vinegar and see if it’s in range and safe to use.

    1. You’ll need more apple scraps or juice for another batch. If you have a mother, you can substitute it for the raw apple cider vinegar to provide a culture for your vinegar and speed up the ferment.

  16. Two questions:
    On one batch I left the apple scraps in for two weeks – what problems might that cause?

    Due to not reading instruction properly, I used plastic lids instead of cloth covers. I’ve vented and stirred daily. If I switch to cloth cover after removing apple scraps will it get enough yeast? At this point is smells sweet and boozy, which seems right. What do you think?

  17. Hi! I just strained my vinegar and put in a container to further ferment for two to three weeks. While now fermenting, do I use cheesecloth on top again? Or a lid? Thank you!

        1. Once the apples are out you can store it like regular vinegar at room temperature. The only thing to keep in mind is to watch for additional fermentation. If the yeast is still active, it will need an airlock or occasional “burping” of the carbon dioxide.

  18. So, if I’m accumulating the apple scraps over the course of a week as we eat apples, how would I store them? Should I just mix everything and add the apples as I go?

  19. Do you just test the ph to know if it is safe to can? Would you put it in clean jars and put the lid on and be done? How exactly would you can? We have 3 bushels and use vinegar all the time so I would love to put som up.

    1. It should keep indefinitely in a sealed non-reactive container, without canning. I still have some from last year in good condition. You could even use food grade plastic buckets. I’m not sure how long standard canning lids will hold out without corroding, but you could screw on a layer of wax paper between the lid and the jar to block the acid from the metal lid.

        1. You’re welcome. Do make sure when you’re brewing to stir daily when the apple chunks are still in it. The exposed pieces are the most likely spots for a mold outbreak, which will ruin the batch.

      1. Hi , i wanted to add that the plastic jar lids from mayo work great on standard suze canning jars. They are also great for covering the metal lid once u remove the ring …
        Be blessed .
        Julie from Ms .

    1. Straining would remove a solid mass of “mother”, but when the bacteria is live, a new one will generally grow (if your particular yeast species are those that generate a film type mother”. Most of the time (in my experience), vinegar doesn’t form a solid skin of a mother like kombucha, but you will have active cultures throughout the sediment that forms and the brew itself.